Syracuse took one on the chin in South Bend.
The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team fell on the road to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 79-69, on Wednesday night. The loss moves Syracuse to 15-13 on the season and 9-8 in conference play.
Syracuse jumped out to an early lead behind the play of Buddy and Jimmy Boeheim, but the Orange struggled to keep the Irish off the glass throughout the first half as Paul Atkinson hauled in 11 first-half boards. With both defenses struggling to get stops and Notre dame controlling the glass the Irish took a 42-38 lead into the break.
Syracuse came back to take the lead in the second half 47-45, only to surrender a 13-0 run to fall behind by double-digits midway through. From there it was an arduous uphill battle. The Orange eventually cut the lead to two late but couldn’t quite get back over the hump to reclaim the lead.
The game featured 12 ties and 15 lead changes and the loss served as a wet blanket, extinguishing the embers of any at-large tournament hopes that still lingered for Syracuse.
Here are our takeaways:
Syracuse has been a fair rebounding team this season, especially considering the 2-3 zone is susceptible to allowing offensive boards. The difference can be made up for with steals and forced turnovers, but the Orange did neither of those things well on Wednesday night.
Notre Dame won the battle of the boards 41-28 and Syracuse forced just seven Irish turnovers. But Syracuse really struggled keeping one man in particular off the glass; Paul Atkinson hauled in 17 rebounds to go with his 20 point night. His effort helped fuel a 22-6 second chance points advantage.
That’s a tough deficit to overcome.
Prentiss Hubb grasped for straws and broke the Orange’s back
Syracuse came all the way back from 12 down to cut the Notre Dame lead to just two with four minutes left. Then, out of a timeout, Notre Dame’s Prentiss Hubb launched a step-back three over the outstretched arms of Symir Torrence with the shot clock winding down and somehow found nylon.
It was all downhill for the Orange from there. Blake Wesley then scored to stretch the lead to seven and while Syracuse fought back, the well ran dry on the buckets of the Boeheim brothers.
Clutch free throw shooting by Notre Dame put this game out of reach down the stretch.
As we get closer to the ACC Tournament, standings come into play with greater clarity vis-à-vis conference tournament seeding.
Notre Dame came into the night one game behind first-place Duke. Syracuse was firmly locked into seventh in the conference, one full game ahead of Virginia Tech, but a game and a half behind Virginia. Here’s how ACC Tournament seeding looked before tonight’s games:
Syracuse should try to not play Duke in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals. pic.twitter.com/jCay77YqQq
— NunesMagician.com (@NunesMagician) February 24, 2022
Given Syracuse’s loss, a Virginia Tech win over Georgia Tech on Wednesday night would drop Syracuse to eighth in the league. If Syracuse finished eighth in the league and Duke maintains its top spot, Syracuse would have an unenviable date with the Blue Devils in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament, so long as the Orange could get past its first opponent.
Not ideal for a team that, barring winning these final three conference games, would need to win the ACC Tournament to go dancing.